Dispensing ‘Fresh’ Floss on Demand for Single-Handed Teeth Cleaning

by Rob Croft
Packaging for dental floss has made a giant leap from the “roll-in-a-box” to pre-cut, pre-stretched bows that offer single-handed flossing.
But it’s too early to tell if this new genre of floss will become the dominant format. Why? Because it’s all too evident that the consumer is paying more money for less product. This fact is difficult to disguise in a category that sells product by the yard to a consumer who typically likes to address each tooth with a fresh length of floss.
But these standalone bows do provide the impetus to jumpstart the traditional roll-in-a-box business with innovative packaging that could potentially solve the shortcomings of both configurations and redefine the category.
Our next-generation floss package (depicted in the illustration) is rooted in the conventional roll system but provides consumers with the option of single-handed flossing if they desire.
Here’s how it works: The floss feeds from the roll out through the side of the package to a “floss bow,” then back across the top of the bow to a notch and trim feature.
Fishing for ideas
A simple plastic clutch integrally molded into the back of the dispenser maintains the tension on the floss. It works by applying pressure to the sides of the roll, like a “bait-caster” fishing reel. Tainted floss follows an external path for hygiene reasons, and the consumer advances it by pulling and trimming as per the current ritual. The package’s splash-resistant design facilitates rinsing without wetting the feed roll.
Consumers can remove the floss bow, leaving a package that operates just like a regular floss dispenser. In doing so, the design retains its appeal to consumers who “simply want a better roll of floss.”
Injection-molded, clarified propylene with antibacterial filler form the package’s front and rear cabinets. These two plastic components are integrally hinged to facilitate molding as a single part and the automated loading of the floss roll. Curved side panels can carry branding and graphics.
Swerve has designed several bows that can address the cleansing of front teeth or molars. Taking the floss through a triangular path accommodates flossing the molars. A folding version of the package makes the unit more “pocket-friendly” and encourages away-from-home usage.
This “blue-sky” packaging concept shows that a marketer can transform the time-honored floss roll into something quite radical without spending millions of dollars on a new manufacturing system or educating consumers to adopt a new usage ritual.
The author, Rob Croft, is Managing Partner of Swerve Inc., specialists in 3-D brand design. Contact him at 212.742.9560 or rob@swerveinc.com